BOZEMAN - On Thursday's This Week in Fish and Wildlife, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks' Morgan Jacobsen shared information about a special management hunt planned for the Ruby Valley.
A chronic wasting disease (CWD) management hunt will be held for white-tailed deer on private and state-owned lands in several southwest-Montana hunting districts.
The primary goal of this hunt is to reduce white-tailed deer density to slow the spread of CWD among whitetails and reduce the probability of spread to mule deer, elk and moose. FWP also hopes to increase understanding of CWD distribution and prevalence through continued testing of hunter-harvested deer.
The CWD management hunt will run from Dec. 11 through Feb. 15. Several licenses will be valid in the CWD management hunt area, and each — including B licenses — will be valid for either-sex whitetail harvest:
• Unused 2021 general deer license
• 003-00 white-tailed deer B license
• 399-00 white-tailed deer B license; this license will remain available for purchase throughout the hunt with a limit of five per hunter
• White-tailed deer B licenses from any other hunting district
This hunt is only valid on private and state-owned lands in these deer/elk hunting districts:
• HD 320 – Those portions within the Jefferson River watershed. Portions within the Madison River watershed are excluded.
• HD 322
• HD 324
• HD 325 – Those portions within the Blacktail Deer Creek watershed. Portions within the Beaverhead River watershed south of Barretts are excluded.
• HD 326
• HD 329
• HD 330 – Those portions within the Ruby River watershed. Portions within the Madison River watershed are excluded.
• HD 331
• HD 340
As always, landowner permission is required before hunting. All other 2021 hunting regulations apply.
CWD in southwest Montana
CWD is a contagious neurological disease that infects deer, elk and moose. It is always fatal, and there is no known cure. It was first detected in Montana’s wild herds in 2017. CWD was detected among white-tailed deer in the Ruby Valley in 2019. These deer are contiguous with white-tailed deer and moose throughout the Ruby, Jefferson, Beaverhead and Big Hole valleys. They are seasonally connected to populations of elk, moose and mule deer.
Observed CWD prevalence varies throughout the hunt area, with some localized portions reaching prevalence levels as high as 45 percent.
Hunters play a significant role in FWP’s management efforts for CWD. Without population reductions, prevalence is expected to increase in the coming years throughout these whitetail deer populations.
Continued CWD sampling
Hunters who participate in the management hunt are encouraged to submit samples for CWD testing, though it is not mandatory. FWP has provided resources to help hunters collect and submit samples for testing on their own. These resources can be found on FWP’s website by visiting fwp.mt.gov/CWD.
Additionally, FWP will have staff available to collect CWD samples from harvested animals beginning Dec. 12. Staff will be stationed at the Madison County Fairgrounds (2 Fairgrounds Loop) in Twin Bridges on Dec. 12 and 15 from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. They’ll also be stationed at FWP’s Butte Area Resource Office (1820 Meadowlark Lane) on Dec. 13 and 14 from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
From Dec. 16 through Feb. 15, sampling station locations and hours of operation will be variable and will be posted on FWP’s website. Visit go.usa.gov/xeAnD, then scroll down and click on “Sampling Stations”.
CWD is not known to infect humans. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people not eat meat from infected animals and have their harvested animals tested before eating them if they were taken from an area where CWD is known to exist. For more information on CDC recommendations, please visit go.usa.gov/xAcnc.